Saturday, June 24, 2006

Eagle Scout Court of Honor

(This was written on June(18)

Today was my nephew’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor. This was the culmination of a very busy weekend for him. I was interested to see how he would hold up for the court of honor after being at a party all night after his graduation. I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night and I’m pretty trashed. But then I’m a lot older than him.

Our morning started at church at 9:30. This started out as a blessing because we didn’t have to get up too early. But since I woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep it really didn’t matter much.

After church there was a tailgate potluck – see previous posting.

The Court of Honor started at 2 PM. It was run just like many of the Eagle Scout Court of Honor’s that I had attended back when I was active in scouting. However there were a few little changes. I don’t remember an Eagle Scout Promise from my Court of Honor, nor from any of the several courts I attended back in the dark ages. My father doesn’t remember it either. We both think that it is something that has been added sometime in the last 30 years.

Well my sister was using the Eagle Scout Promise as her final attempt to get me involved in the ceremony. I had originally declined a role in the court of honor because I was not going to be here for it. This has been a cause for contention in my family for several months.

My sister, nephew and mother all claim that, years ago I promised my nephew that when he got his Eagle I would be here for it. This is the kind of promise that I have been known to make and carry through with. It is also the kind of promise that I usually remember making. Since I would have just committed myself and my family to a long trip of about 1100 miles, each way, just to attend a 30 minute ceremony, I usually remember doing things like that. In this case I don’t remember ever saying any such thing. I may have promised this and forgotten, but it is more likely that this was a promise made on my behalf by my mother, who was extremely good at doing such things. As a method of support for my nephew she may have told him that I was excited about him being in Scouts and that she was sure that I would be at his court of honor when I got his Eagle Scout award. Mom did stuff like this all the time. She would say something like that and it would become gospel. She would repeat it over and over until not only she believed it, but so did everyone else.

This situation has happened in the past. The two most recent times were with my niece and nephews confirmations. My mother had promised everyone that my family would be there for both events. She made this promise so often that eventually everyone believed it and we felt obligated to be at both events. So twice in the last four years we packed our family up and drove 1100 miles for a one hour event. We don’t regret doing this. It was nice to see the family and be there for their confirmations. Besides we believed that this would encourage my sister’s family to reciprocate when it came time for our children to be confirmed.

Apparently my sister doesn’t feel as compelled to live up to my mother’s promises as I do. As soon as we knew the date of my daughter’s confirmation we let the family all know that they were all invited. My sister immediately responded that they would not be able to make the event. Her son was going to graduate and have his Eagle Scout Court of Honor the following weekend and they just would not be able to make it. I however was still expected to be at her place the following weekend for the Court of Honor. I guess my family never makes plans, gets busy or has other things to do other than arrange our lives around my sister’s schedule.

Well I told my Sister, my Nephew and my Mother that we would not be able to be in Washington for the graduation or Court of Honor. We had the end of school, my daughter’s confirmation, scout camps, volleyball camps, tennis camps, ‘major must attend’ reviews at work and a lack of vacation time to deal with. Besides since they were not coming to my daughter’s confirmation I didn’t feel all that bad about not showing up for their events.

How silly of me. My sister said she was disappointed since I had promised, but then let it drop. My nephew reminded me of my promise several times in a “you are really letting me down” tone of voice. My mother was the worst, to listen to her you would think that by not showing up I was causing the end of life in the Universe as we know it. She spent several phone calls over a several week period letting me know that I was personally ruining the entire weekend for everyone by not living up to my promise to be there.

As things turn out, I was there anyway. As I was reminded several times after arriving in Everett it was a good thing to, since I had promised to be here. My nephew went as far as during the reception afterwards making a big fuss in front of several of his friends and his scoutmaster about thanking me for being there, especially since I had planned on breaking my promise and not showing up. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Somehow saying “Good thing my Mom died then, so I would have to drive my Dad here so I could keep a promise to you that I never made in the first place” just didn’t seem quite proper. So I stood there with my coffee cup in my hand, thinking that my nephew learned a lot from his grandmother and greatgrandmother, most of it not good.

So there we were, right before the ceremony starts and my sister was trying to get me involved in the ceremony. I didn’t want to be involved with the ceremony. I haven’t been actively involved with scouting for over 20 years and don’t have any sort of uniform that would fit. I have had no impact what so ever on my nephews trek to Eagle Scout. So I didn’t feel like I belonged in that Court of Honor. That was duty for his friends, fellow scouts, and leaders to attend to. But they insisted anyway. I politely declined, several times. Then on the day of the event I was asked again if I wanted to lead the Eagle pledge. I told them “No, not really, I don’t know what the eagle pledge is. I would rather just be a spectator.” Then just before the ceremony started I was told that during the Eagle Pledge they were going to invite all existing Eagle Scouts to come up and rededicate themselves by joining in with the Eagle Pledge, and how nice it would be for my nephew if I would join in with that. So there I was trying to figure out exactly how much of a fuss my sister or my nephew were going to make when they got to that part of the ceremony and I didn’t join in. Not that I would mind joining in, but at that point I was just sick and tired of having this guilt trip thing shoved down my throat. So I stubbornly refused to follow my first impulse of just getting up and walking out of the church before the ceremony could start. Instead I sat there taking pictures and getting ready to be thoroughly humiliated when they insisted in making me do something that I had told them repeatedly that I did not feel comfortable doing.

I lucked out. The scout who led the Eagle Pledge apparently forgot about the last minute change to the program and didn’t call for all other Eagles to come forward. So I got to sit there and just be a spectator after all.

It was a good ceremony. I was proud of my nephew even though he had been irritating me for days. Eagle Scout is a great accomplishment that he can carry with him for the rest of his life. I got mine 34 years ago and I still list it on my resume under personal accomplishments.

After the ceremony ended we headed back to my sister’s where we ate some of the leftovers that were cluttering her refrigerator, then we loaded up our cars and headed for Rapid City South Dakota, to bury Mom.

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